Principal's Newsletter 8-7-20208/10/2020
Sellwood Principal’s Newsletter – August 7, 2020
Greetings Sellwood Community,
I hope this communication finds you well. This has definitely been an unusual and difficult summer, and I imagine that parents are feeling especially anxious about the start of school in September. As you know, the district had hoped we would begin the year with a hybrid model combining distance learning with in-person learning at school. Plans were being created for that model, and as you can imagine, the logistics were very daunting. However, due to safety concerns, the decision was made at the state and district level that school will begin in a distance-learning model in the fall, at least until the end of the 1st quarter. In these challenging times, there are no easy solutions; we can only use the information and resources we have and do our best.
I know that parents are anxiously awaiting a bell schedule for distance learning, as well as specific, detailed information about the plan. Families need to coordinate their work and own time demands around the school schedule.
This year, the middle school "bell schedule" for distance learning will be common for all middle schools across the district. The reason for the common middle school schedule is in recognition that last year, due to the unplanned nature and shifting sands of the school closure, schools were left to come up with their own schedules, leading to undesirable variability across schools. This summer, middle school principals and teachers have been collaborating on the details of the common bell schedule. The bell schedule has not been finalized and approved yet, but I should be able to share it soon.
We know that many parents have concerns about arranging child care, and PPS would like to better understand your needs. The survey was sent to all families a week ago, but I have also included the Distance Learning Child Care Survey below my letter.
In addition, individual student schedules are also being reworked due to changes to the budget, staffing, and the all distance learning model. We plan to have those completed and mailed Friday, August 14th so that you can receive them the following Monday.
I can share some information about staffing and new programs. We have hired a new French/technology teacher and a half-time drama teacher. I am waiting for HR to finalize the onboarding of a new music teacher/band director (he has received a thumbs-up from Dan A.) and I have made a job offer to an additional counselor, but am still waiting to hear if the offer was accepted.
Our elective classes will look different this semester, of course. Marimba and ceramics will be shifted to second semester. Band will be challenging at Sellwood; our music teacher will be collaborating with colleagues at the district level in order to plan distance learning for music and band. Even for in-person learning, band will be challenging, just as it will be at schools across the country. There is speculation and fear that wind instruments may facilitate the transmission of COVID-19, but there is not a lot of research. Here is a link to an article on the subject. Is it safe to strike up the band in a time of Coronavirus? published by sciencemag.org on July 17, 2020.
In addition to these shifts due to the pandemic and distance learning, we will be intentionally embedding social justice and racial equity learning into our curriculum as part of our efforts to fight racial injustice and end White supremacy. Below, I have included a few resources for White students and families who are seeking to be better White allies and/or that support students and families of color who are impacted by racism.
Sellwood secretarial staff will officially start work on Monday, but will be working remotely for the most part. Each Friday, I plan to send out this parent newsletter as well as additional information as needed. The district will be sending you centralized messages, so be on the lookout for emails from PPS Communications. Here is a link to their most recent communication. https://www.pps.net/fall2020
I am sorry I cannot share information about the distance learning bell schedule at this time. Please know that I will always share as much information as I can, as soon as I am permitted. I am also just an email away to respond to individual questions and concerns.
Take care of yourselves and stay well.
Sellwood MS Principal
Important Dates to Remember
September 2: First day of Distance Learning
October 9: No school
November 6 : End of 1st quarter
November 11: No school
November 23 &24: Parent/Teacher conferences
December 21-January 1: Winter Break
Race, Racism, and Racial Equity Resources
How Silence Can Breed Prejudice: A child Development Professor Explains How and Why to Talk to Kids about Race, published by The Washington Post on July 6, 2015
How to Talk about Race and Protests with your Kids, Explained by a Child Psychologist, published by wbur.org on June 10, 2020
Child Care Survey- PPS Wants to Hear from You!
PPS is interested in learning about your family’s child care needs starting this fall. We are exploring ways to provide learning support and child care when children are being taught online. Please take a moment to complete a brief online survey, visit www.pps.net/childcare. Please complete this survey by Sunday, August 9th at 9 pm.
To access the message in our supported languages, click here.
Nancy Hauth, Student Success Program Manager, Early Learning